The Supported & Supervised Family Centre Ltd (S&SFC) has been running since January 2019 and this is its first reaccreditation. It is a privately owned company offering both public and private law contacts and is commissioned by local authorities to oversee parent/child contacts in public law as well as offering private law supervised and supported contact, handover, virtual and community contact. It is a well-used resource based in Spalding, Lincolnshire working from a large, shared office and training building, Wellands Centre, based in the centre of the town. The owner previously worked for a local authority (for nearly twenty years) and undertakes most of the business themselves, with three part time workers to support them. Spalding is 19 miles away from Peterborough, the main transport interchange and there are multiple trains and buses running from the city into Spalding. The contact centre is only a short walk from both the train station and bus stops.
The building has been newly decorated, and the contact mainly takes place using two well-equipped rooms. The Covid pandemic had the impact of closing the centre from the end of March until July 2020. Since then, following NACCC, government and local guidance they have been able to offer a level of contact. During lockdown periods this was in the form of virtual contact or community contact. At the time of the report the centre was able to offer all of its services.
S&SFC’s website has downloads of referral form, charges, terms and conditions of using the centre, information for resident parents regarding what children need in terms of support when coming to visit the non-resident parent. Opening times, location etc are also available on website. There is also a useful download giving a list of agencies that can support families.
S&SFC has an informative leaflet for children and young people with links to useful sites for additional information. Children are invited to visit the family centre as part of the resident parent’s pre-visit and are met by a separate member of staff to become familiar with the contact room and activities, talk to the member of staff about any concerns and have questions answered. Following the pre-visit, the contract, agreement, and rules of the centre are signed, and a risk assessment is completed. When contact commences a child can spend time with the staff before going into the room if they are anxious. The centre is very child focussed and can accommodate families from a variety of backgrounds.
Staggered arrivals and departures are in place and children can be met in the carpark if needed so that resident parent does not have to come into the building. Several languages are spoken at the centre and when necessary, an interpreter will be used. This will be paid for by the service users or referrer. Home visits and work in the home was rare and since the pandemic has not occurred. Staff only occasionally transport children.
There are numerous activities within the vicinity of the child contact centre such as bowling alley, swimming pool, parks, skatepark and running track. Community contact is therefore also available and is subject to contact agreement and risk assessment. Both indirect contact and handover contact are available at SSFC. Indirect contact was used during the pandemic and lockdowns and is also used for families who live a long distance apart. The centre is also used for handover purposes, subject to the same referral form, pre meeting, risk assessment and contract with staff ensuring the safe handover of children either side of contact. Review forms are available and used, when possible, on a quarterly basis.
Support & Supervised Family Contact Centre is a busy centre carrying out a variety of work. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.